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94-2018 - Revised advice for aircraft operators about assistance dogs

14 August 2018

Who does this notice affect?

All aircraft operators that may carry passengers accompanied by assistance dogs into Australia.

What has changed?

This advice supersedes the notice 77-2016 Advice for aircraft operators about assistance dogs.

Purpose

To advise aircraft operators of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources import conditions for assistance dogs.

Policy

All dogs destined to Australia, including those that were born and/or have lived in Australia and those returning to Australia after a short overseas trip, must fully comply with Australia’s import conditions.

All assistance dogs destined for Australia (except from New Zealand or Norfolk Island) must be accompanied by a valid assistance dog import permit.

Assistance dogs are dogs that have been trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability, and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place. The person in charge of the dog must provide evidence of this training, as required by the department’s eligibility criteria, before the department will consider granting a permit to import the dog as an assistance dog.

An assistance dog import permit specifically allows the dog to accompany the handler in the cabin of the aircraft (subject to aircraft operator approval).

While some dogs may be eligible to travel in the aircraft cabin in the country of export under that country’s assistance or emotional support dog laws, those dogs may not meet Australia’s eligibility criteria to be imported as an assistance dog in the aircraft cabin.

Dogs that do not meet the department’s eligibility criteria for an assistance dog import permit can only be imported to Australia under the standard dog import conditions, which involves travelling as manifest cargo on an international flight directly to Melbourne, for a minimum 10 days post entry quarantine isolation period.

Instructions for aircraft operators

  1. The aircraft operator must not allow an assistance dog to be checked in to accompany a handler in the cabin for a flight to Australia (except from New Zealand or Norfolk Island) without sighting:
    1. a valid permit to import an assistance dog into Australia; and
    2. written advice from the department confirming permission to import, receipt of the import permit, and approval of the dog’s official health certification and any required preparations.

Note: dogs and cats from New Zealand and Norfolk Island do not require import permits. Assistance dogs from New Zealand and Norfolk Island are imported under the standard conditions for dogs from New Zealand and Norfolk Island.

  1. Consistent with section 193 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 and existing departmental requirements, the aircraft operator must, before landing, report that there is an animal in the cabin of the aircraft.
  2. The aircraft operator must ensure that all other animals destined for Australia travel as manifest cargo and in compliance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) and import permit requirements.

Background

The department would like to again remind aircraft operators of Australia’s strict biosecurity requirements and the conditions that must be met to allow dogs to be imported into Australian territory in the cabin of an aircraft.

All assistance dogs destined for Australia (except from New Zealand or Norfolk Island) must be accompanied by a valid assistance dog import permit.

Dogs and cats from New Zealand and Norfolk Island do not require import permits. Assistance dogs from New Zealand and Norfolk Island are imported under the standard conditions for dogs from New Zealand and Norfolk Island.

Prior to departure from the country of export (except from New Zealand or Norfolk Island), the person in charge of the assistance dog must provide notice to the department of their intention to import the dog into Australia, including their intention to import the dog in the cabin of the aircraft. The department will then grant permission to proceed with the import, by providing written confirmation of the receipt of the import permit, and approval of the dog’s official health certification and any required preparations (testing, treatments and veterinary examinations).

There have been instances of dogs arriving in Australia in the cabin of an aircraft without a valid assistance dog import permit, and not in compliance with Australia’s import conditions.

The department cannot release from biosecurity control any dog that does not comply with Australian biosecurity requirements, and will have to direct the person in charge of the dog to export or euthanase the dog. This outcome is tragic for all concerned and we need assistance from aircraft operators to ensure such situations can be avoided.

Further information

Information about importing assistance dogs into Australia is located at the following website: Assistance dogs.

Aircraft operators who require further clarification may email Imports.